March 6, 2023: Oregon man sentenced for three years of selling steroids and fake pills on Facebook

This week: PSM’s executive director spoke at Senator Rick Scott’s roundtable. The US FDA acted to restrict the illicit shipment of xylazine, a disfiguring, corruptive substance often added to fentanyl. Investigators have traced the deaths of 84 children in Gambia and Uzbekistan to counterfeit cough syrup. An Oregon man is going to prison for selling fake Adderall, fake Xanax and steroids. 57 people in three states were charged with selling fentanyl pills and other drugs and a doctor was sentenced for faking a stem cell treatment. Additional news about fake pills in 30 states.

National News - Multi-state prosecutions, FDA action on xylazine, advocates fighting fentanyl pills

Customs officials in Finland warned about Xanax made with designer drugs like n-ethylhexedrone in 2019 (Tulli)

A federal judge in Nebraska sentenced Jonathan Stidham of Eugene, Oregon to 13 years for leading a ring that distributed steroids, fake Adderall made of methamphetamine, and counterfeit Xanax made of alprazolam and, unusually, a stimulant called n-ethylhexedrone, one of a class of drugs commonly referred to as “bath salts.” Stidham’s operation, which ran from April 2018 to March 2021, acquired raw materials from China via U.S. mail. He used a Facebook group called “Bob’s Custom Clothes Warehouse” to market the drugs to buyers across the country, and laundered proceeds via shell companies. 

The Acting U.S. Attorney in western Pennsylvania charged 57 people in three states for their alleged drug trafficking in western Pennsylvania, Arizona, Kansas, Minnesota, Ohio, Washington, and in Mexico. Agents seized more than two million fake prescription pills made with fentanyl, over 430 pounds of other narcotics, and over $600,000 during the investigation.

As public health authorities in South Carolina warned about xylazine in illicit pills, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an import alert for the drug. The action will allow FDA staff to detain illicit shipments of the veterinary tranquilizer.

Executive director Shabbir Safdar joined a roundtable discussion about the fentanyl crisis hosted by Senator Rick Scott. Safdar discussed the role of social media in making deadly counterfeit pills available to children and youth, and demanded accountability from platforms that are not adequately policing drug dealers.

Mothers from Wisconsin and Michigan spoke before congress about losing their children to fake pills made with fentanyl. Parents in Florida, Kansas, and Texas reached out to their communities after their children, too, were fatally poisoned by pills.

The FDA issued an import alert for xylazine on February 28.

Prosecutions - Fake stem cell treatments, fentanyl pill deaths, pill presses and trafficking of fake painkillers, Adderall and Xanax

Derges's clinic promoting a seminar about stem cells on Facebook, 2020

Former Missouri legislator Patricia Ashton Derges was sentenced to over six years in federal prison for pandemic-related financial fraud, making false claims about a fake stem cell treatment offered in her clinics, and providing oxycodone and Adderall over the internet without valid prescriptions.

Brandon Michael McDowell received a nine-year federal sentence for selling fake oxycodone pills made of fentanyl. Temecula, California resident Alexandra Capelouto died after taking one half of one of the pills McDowell sold in December 2019.

Wathana Insixiengmay of Nampa, Idaho received a 12-year federal sentence for selling fentanyl after a bust in June 2022. Court documents say she received approximately 60,000 pills per week for local distribution.

Salem, Massachusetts resident Ernest Johnson received a seven-and-a-half-year prison sentence for his part in a drug ring that made and sold over 500,000 fake Percocet pills made of fentanyl on the state’s North Shore. On the heels of this sentencing, the U.S. Attorney in Massachusetts charged two more North Shore men – one in Reading and a second in Saugus – who allegedly made and sold tens of thousands of fake prescription pills made of meth or fentanyl.

Bradley Westphal of Olivia, Minnesota pleaded guilty to third-degree murder for selling fentanyl pills disguised as Percocet to Connie Havens, a mother of ten who died in July 2021.

A Pennsylvania court sentenced Anthony Nicholas Irvin of Franconia Township to three to ten years in a state prison for gun and drug charges. Police searching his home in January 2022 found a pill press, pill stamps, and a package of fake Xanax pills.

A Coraopolis, Pennsylvania man has been charged with leading a ring that sold fentanyl and methamphetamine disguised as Oxycontin, Xanax and Adderall on the dark web. A search of his properties yielded 10,000 suspected fentanyl pills, raw powder, a pill press, and 11 firearms.

Lionel Henderson of Wichita Falls, Texas received a 17-and-a-half-year federal sentence for drug possession for knowingly selling the fake oxycodone pills that killed a Graham, Oklahoma man in June 2020.

Comments like this one drew investigator's attention to another man allegedly dealing fentanyl pills in the Carrollton, Texas area. (Fox 4 News)

A man in Carrollton, Texas is facing federal drug charges after he advertised the sale of M30 pills in the comments of an Instagram post about the arrest of alleged pill dealers tied to at least ten juvenile fentanyl poisonings, three of which were fatal.

Men in Colorado Springs, Colorado and Omaha, Nebraska were sentenced and men in Denver Colorado, Burnsville, Minnesota and Fairfax County, Virginia were convicted on charges involving fentanyl pills.

Separate defendants were charged with allegedly selling counterfeit pills that killed people in Gwinnett County and Sandy Springs, Georgia, Bowling Green, Kentucky, Nashville, Tennessee, and Kenosha, Wisconsin.

An Oregon woman was charged after a Utah Highway Patrol trooper allegedly caught her with 19 pounds of fentanyl pills in February.  A man in Norton, Massachusetts was arraigned for making and selling trafficking fentanyl pills.

Seizures - Pill presses and fake pills made with fentanyl

Investigators from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department seized two pill press machines, ecstasy pills and methamphetamine during a drug bust in Victorville, California.

Deputies seized over 27,000 fentanyl pills during a multi-drug bust in Rutherfordton, North Carolina.

Small seizures of fentanyl pills also happened in Alabama, Kansas, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, and Tennessee.

International News - Fake antibiotics and deadly contaminated children’s cough medicine

Law enforcement raided a warehouse in Cuttack, India seizing fake ofloxacin, an antibiotic, and counterfeit ornidazole, which treats diarrhea.

Three employees of a Noida, India company have been arrested on charges that their firm manufactured contaminated cough syrup that killed 18 children in Uzbekistan in 2022.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report detailing a similar incident in Gambia, where 12 children suffered kidney failure and 66 died from contaminated cough medicine between June and September 2022.